Numerous Alberta MLAs refuse to say if they're planning on getting vaccinated
CALGARY -- As the province gets set to open up COVID-19 immunizations to every adult in Alberta, some elected officials are keeping tight-lipped on their vaccine decisions.
CTV News has reached out to all 87 Alberta MLAs to ask about their vaccination plans.
Nineteen of those MLAs have refused to answer the question, even after repeated calls and emails. Of those 19, 18 are members of the United Conservative Party caucus.
The other MLA, Lesser Slave Lake's Pat Rehn, was recently kicked out of the party.
ODD MLAS OUT
Every other respondent -- including all 24 NDP MLAs and 38 other UCP MLAs -- said they have either already received a shot or they plan to get one soon.
Thirteen of the 17 elected officials who recently signed a letter asking the province to reduce public health measures did not respond to the request.
Five of the non-respondents also traveled outside of the country over the December holidays.
The majority of those who wouldn't disclose their plans are based in rural Alberta.
CTV News provided every MLA who did not originally respond four days -- and multiple follow-up messages -- to answer the question.
Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen is the only sitting minister who did not respond to any emails.
Friday morning, CTV News reached out to the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry's office over the phone to ask about his vaccine decision.
Press secretary Justin Laurence called the move a "personal choice."
When asked whether Dreeshen would be asking his constituents to receive the shot, Laurence replied, "We didn't respond to the (original) request, so I'm just going to leave it at that."
But when he was asked about immunization Friday, Jason Kenney said he hasn't heard of anyone in his government who doesn't want to get the vaccine.
"My colleagues, as far as I know, intend to get vaccinated as soon as they become eligible," Kenney said, adding shot hesitancy numbers have dipped in recent days. "There's always a minority of the population who are just skeptical about or opposed to all vaccines for whatever reasons," he said. "(But) I strongly encourage everyone to get the jab."
Kenney later downplayed the role elected leaders have when it comes to COVID-19.
"I don't think people go and get the jab just because some politician does," he said.
When it comes to vaccine influence, political scientist Keith Brownsey disagrees with the premier.
"When you get it, that sends a clear signal that this is important and this is what you should be doing as a citizen," Brownsey told CTV News.
He believes the "large majority" of those who didn't respond did so because they have no plans to get immunized.
"Their job is to lead and to protect and they are not doing their job. That exemplifies stupidity and (shows) a profound ignorance of their role in our society."
Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt did not respond to a request for comment, but has previously walked-back "do your research" comments she made about the COVID-19 vaccination. Pitt said last month she would receive the shot.
Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland MLA Shane Getson did write an email back to the request, but would not disclose his plans. Instead, he said, "I trust Albertans to make the right decision for themselves, and communities. An informed decision between their doctors, and families, consultation as required. My personal choice is based on those same decisions."
The full list of MLAs who either did not respond or wouldn't disclose their immunization plans:
- Tracy Allard, Grande Prairie, UCP (email confirming vaccination received May 10)
- Jackie Armstrong, Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, UCP (confirmed vaccination on May 10)
- Drew Barnes, Cypress-Medicine Hat, UCP
- Devin Dreeshen, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, UCP (vaccination photo posted on Twitter on May 11)
- Shane Getson , Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland, UCP (responded but would not disclose decision)
- David Hanson , Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul, UCP
- Todd Loewen, Central Peace-Notley, UCP
- Martin Long, West Yellowhead, UCP
- Jeremy Nixon , Calgary-Klein, UCP
- Ronald Orr, Lacombe-Ponoka, UCP (email confirming vaccination received May 11)
- Pat Rehn, Lesser Slave Lake, Independent
- Roger Reid, Livingstone-Macleod, UCP
- Miranda Rosin, Banff-Kananaskis UCP
- Garth Rowswell, Vermillion-Lloydminster-Wainwright UCP
- R.J. Sigurdson, Highwood, UCP
- Mark Smith, Drayton Valley-Devon, UCP
- Jason Stephan, Red Deer-South, UCP
- Glenn van Dijken, Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock, UCP
- Dan Williams, Peace River, UCP